(PHOTO: Launching of the USS Boston, at the Bethlehem Steel Corporation's Fore River Shipyard, Quincy, Massachusetts, 26 AUG 1942. Courtesy of James Russell, 1972. Courtesy U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph #NH 75590. USNHC/James Russell and navsource.org.)
MyRye.com loves it when a plan comes together.
On Wednesday we asked all of you, the citizens of Rye, who knew the story of how the USS Boston's anchor wound up at the Durland Center. With a MyRye.com "shout out" Scott Pickup and Tom Saunders for leading us to the treasure, retired Rye City Court Judge John L. Alfano tells us the tale of how a piece of US naval history came to rest at the entrance of the Durland Scout Center.
Rye’s Anchor with History by John L. Alfano
As so many interesting things in my life have started, the anchor was one of the subjects of conversation sitting around a table at the weekly Rye Rotary meeting. One of the participants was Lauren "Larry" Bradley, then the director of the Durland Scout Center on Milton Point. He commented that the center’s appearance blended into the residential character of the Milton Point neighborhood and I replied that it was probably intentional when the city fathers allowed its location there.
Nevertheless he opined that sufficient time had elapsed and that it would be nice if its presence as a nautical facility was more conspicuous, amongst the various beach and yacht clubs. He indicated that he had made contact with the US Navy and that it was in the process of scraping the US Boston, a decommissioned heavy cruiser which had last been refitted as a missile cruiser. He indicated that one of its anchors was available (for loan). The catch was that it would be up to the recipient to arrange for its transportation from the mothball fleet at Williamsburg, Virginia to its final destination.
Larry knew that I had many transportation companies among my clients. I had previously arranged for the transportation of surplus Rye City school books to a West coast port for embarkation in the Navy’s operation sealift to a port in the Philippines destined for Rotary clubs there. Rotarian Joe Soury, then principal of the Midland Elementary school, had conceived the project to save the school books from the dumpsters and had arranged for their packing. The joke at that time was if the books were not out of date when they left Rye they would be when they finally reached their destination, since they would be transported on a space available basis.
So I started canvassing my client list for companies that I could approach. One of them was James F. Lomma of New Jersey, a heavy hauler which would be required since the flute of the anchor alone weighed in at eighteen thousand pounds. When I explained the move to Jim I hit pay dirt when I mentioned that it was for the Boy Scouts and he had been one as a youth. He indicated that he would transport it gratis to Rye on one of his highway units but that I would have to arrange for it to be unloaded. Back to my list. One of my clients was Jack Klein of Harrison New York who had a tow truck business and operated wrecker equipment including a tilt bed flat truck. Jack was willing to perform the unloading gratis and all the pieces of the move were put into motion.
(PHOTO: Crewmen lower the colors on the USS Boston for the last time, during the cruiser's decommissioning ceremony at the South Boston Annex, Boston Naval Shipyard, Massachusetts, 5 MAY 1970. Photographed by PH3 George D. Lloyd, USN. Courtesy Official U.S. Navy Photograph, from the collections of the Naval Historical Center. #NH 98301 and navsource.org)
After the anchor was unloaded Larry contacted a Navy Reserve C.B. unit (construction battalion) which built the pedestal upon which the anchor was to be displayed in front of Durland. Once that was accomplished we had a dedication ceremony with Rabbi Robert A. Rothman of the Rye Community Synagogue officiating. Bob was a Rye Rotary member (now honorary) and former Navy Chaplain. As I recall the anchor was dedicated in 1980 as a memorial to all the scouts that went to sea either in the military or merchant marine service.
Through the efforts of Rye Fire Chief George E. Hogben the anchor will be saved for posterity and find a resting place on the grounds of the Milton Point Firehouse.
John L. Alfano is retired as a part time judge of the Rye City Court and still maintains a limited private law practice. He and his wife Phyllis are a forty-two plus year residents of the city. Prior to his twelve years of service on the bench, John served for over thirty years as of volunteer on various city boards and commissions including five years as a member of the Rye City Council. He is a thirty year plus member of the Rye Rotary club and a member of Rye Post 128 of The American Legion, currently serving as Judge-Advocate. John is also a member of the Fire Police Patrol of the Rye Fire Department and an Ex-Captain of the Patrol. Phyllis is a retired elementary school teacher at the Osborn School of the Rye City Schools. They had three daughters, one now deceased, and eight grandchildren.